‘PRISONERS OF FATE’
Please feel free to comment on my review.
Nyssa reunites with her son
This is a powerfully emotional story!
When Sarah Sutton, who plays Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’, asked me to explain the plot of ‘Prisoners of Fate’ to her, I wasn’t able to. I hope I’ll be able to explain the plot in this review for people like Sarah to understand it. But ‘Prisoners of Fate’ is one of the most heart-wrenching audio stories ever made!
I was emotionally drained after listening to ‘Prisoners of Fate’. It’s been pretty hard for me to review this story. I’ll do my best to explain the plot, but be warned! You might get a little confused and have to listen to the story a few times to be clear. As Amy Pond would say, “This is where it gets complicated…”
‘Prisoners of Fate’ is the most significant and gut-wrenching ‘Doctor Who’ adventure ever made with the Fifth Doctor, Nyssa, Tegan and Turlough in it. The story stars Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding and Mark Strickson with Alistair Mackenzie and Sarah Douglas, which was so exciting for me.
The four-part story is so cleverly written by Jonathan Morris. It’s one of the most heart-breaking stories for me with Nyssa as it has her reuniting with her son after missing twenty-five years of her life. Be warned! You’ll need to listen to the previous adventures before this, starting with ‘Cobwebs’.
I’ve had the CD cover of ‘Prisoners of Fate’ signed by the lovely Sarah Sutton at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ convention in Slough, August 2013. Sarah delivers one of her best and most emotionally powerful performances as Nyssa in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. I was so moved by what happens to Nyssa in this.
As I said before, this story is about Nyssa’s son, Adric, who believed that her mother died during her mission to Helheim in ‘Cobwebs’. 25 years later, Adric continues to find the cure to Richter’s Syndrome on Valderon. He does this to honour the memory of her mother who he loved very much.
When the TARDIS eventually arrives on Valderon with the Doctor, Tegan, Turlough and Nyssa, the scene is set for a painful reunion. But a terrible danger is waiting on Valderon as the past catches up with not just Nyssa, but with the Doctor too. An old flame of the Doctor’s is about to take revenge on him.
For me, Jonathan Morris is the best writer to write for Sarah Sutton’s Nyssa in ‘Doctor Who’. Jonny has written some classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories with Nyssa in them. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to Jonny Morris at the ‘Big Blue Box 2’ convention in Tunbridge Wells, March 2013.
There are a lot of time-travel themes running throughout this adventure. I’m impressed with how Jonny Morris has balanced the story with the timey-wimey elements and has injected a great deal of emotional and character drama throughout. It’s a complex tale, but the character drama was superb.
Nyssa is my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ companion from the TV series and the Big Finish audios and I’m a huge fan of Sarah Sutton. I’ve chatted to Sarah about ‘Prisoners of Fate’ at the ‘Project Motor Mouth 2’ convention in Slough and at the ‘Regenerations 2013’ convention in Swansea, September 2013.
I told Sarah how emotionally wrought I was from listening to this audio tale. I hoped that there would be a story dealing with Nyssa’s background, since plot threads get resolved here. This included the Richter’s Syndrome arc which started in ‘Cobwebs’ and with the cure deteriorating in ‘Rat Trap’.
The mentions of Nyssa’s family in these stories are also resolved too. As well as featuring Nyssa’s son Adric, who was first mentioned in ‘Heroes of Sontar’, there is also the resolution and confirmation of the references to Nyssa’s daughter Neeka and also to her husband Lasarti in ‘Circular Time: Winter’.
In this story, Adric Traken sees her mother on the security monitors and believes that she’s the Nyssa from before ‘Terminus’. But of course, this is Nyssa from after ‘Terminus’ as she rejuvenated in ‘The Emerald Tiger’, explaining why she looks so much younger. Are you with me on this so far? 😀
Nyssa goes through a difficult and an emotional journey in this story, as she’s reunited with her son after missing 25 years of her life. If you think that Rose missing a year of her life is bad enough, imagine Nyssa missing 25 years. It was heart-breaking to think she could never return to her old life.
It was a really heart-wrenching scene when Nyssa reunites with her son Adric again. Nyssa learns from Adric that her daughter Neeka got infected with Richter’s Syndrome and that her husband Lasarti died of a broken heart. I could feel for Nyssa when she kept repeatedly saying ‘sorry’ to Adric.
Alistair Mackenzie guest stars as Adric Traken, Nyssa’s son in ‘Prisoners of Fate’. Alistair played Archie MacDonald in the BBC comedy-drama series, ‘Monarch of the Glen’, set in Scotland. I was pleased and delighted to hear Alistair in this ‘Doctor Who’ story and one where he plays Nyssa’s son.
Alistair delivers a brilliant performance as Adric Traken in this ‘Doctor Who’ story. Adric knew about her mother’s adventures with the Doctor at the age of 15. Devastated by her mother’s death, Adric continues his mother’s work to honour her memory. He’s delighted when he finds she’s alive again.
When Adric sees her mother again on the monitor screen, he disguises himself as ‘Galen’ to meet her before he discovers the truth. He’s unhappy when he finds she’s been travelling with the Doctor all this time. I was awestruck by the scenes between Sarah as Nyssa and Alistair as Adric in this story.
The scenes between Nyssa and her son Adric are so well-written. I chatted to Sarah Sutton about her working with Alistair Mackenzie and it turns out she’s also a ‘Monarch of the Glen’ fan like me. Sarah was gobsmacked to be working with Alistair in this tale and we both agreed how good he is as an actor.
At the ‘Regeneration 2013’ convention in Swansea, I met Ken Bentley, the director of ‘Prisoners of Fate’. I thanked Ken for casting Alistair Mackenzie in ‘Prisoners of Fate’ and we had a nice chat about him. Ken found him a great guy to work with. Sarah also joined in on the conversation about Alistair.
Sarah Douglas guest stars as Sibor, a government member on Valderon. I’ve met Sarah Douglas at the ‘Collectormania Glasgow 2012’ convention in August 2012. Sarah is well-known for playing Ursa in the ‘Superman’ movies with Christopher Reeve, including my very favourite movie ‘Superman II’.
Sibor is a ruthless, political person who relies on her Chronoscope to predict the future. She sentences people for their crimes before they commit them. Sibor is merciless and very ambitious as she welcomes the Doctor and party to Valderon, before she accuses Tegan and Turlough for a crime.
The Doctor’s past soon catches up with him, as Sibor’s Chronoscope turns out to be a TARDIS. This happens to be the Doctor’s first TARDIS – his very own Type-50! The Doctor left this Type-50 TARDIS behind when he escaped from Gallifrey with his granddaughter Susan, as seen during ‘The Name of the Doctor’.
The Type-50 TARDIS is bitter and vengeful, as she escaped Gallifrey and ended up on Valderon. The Type-50 manipulates and changes history with Nyssa to create a paradox and get back at the Doctor. The Type-50 takes Sibor’s form and this allows Sarah Douglas to give another villainous performance.
Peter Davison is excellent as the Doctor in this audio adventure, braving through the story’s complexities. It was gut-wrenching when the Doctor and Nyssa have scenes together and he can’t return her back to her own time. The Doctor soon learns of more secrets from Nyssa than he should.
Janet Fielding as Tegan doesn’t have a central role in this story. But she has been keeping her promise to Nyssa not to tell the Doctor about her family. Tegan gets to meet Nyssa’s son Adric for the first time in this story and she struggles to tell the Doctor when they’re walking in Nyssa’s future.
Mark Strickson as Turlough equally gets less of a central role in this story. He’s unaware of Nyssa’s family, before he finds out who Adric is when he confronts him. Turlough makes the mistake of telling Adric that they have already rescued Nyssa from Helheim, which sets up this painful reunion.
This story is closely linked to ‘Circular Time: Winter’, since it makes reference to something that happens in the Fifth Doctor’s future. There are also glimpses of future Doctors featured in this story. I was overwhelmed with emotion in hearing these scenes featuring glimpses of the Doctor’s future.
‘Prisoners of Fate’ ends on a cliff-hanger that had me upset. The Richter’s Syndrome arc gets resolved, but Nyssa doesn’t re-join Adric and leave the TARDIS. They share a fond farewell with each other, promising to meet again, before Nyssa re-joins the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough in the TARDIS.
Adric narrates the end of the story and he says something really shocking. It got me upset and I wanted to know what would happen next. I hoped that it wasn’t the end for Nyssa and that she would see her son again. I would have to wait and find out what would happen in the next adventure.
‘Prisoners of Fate’ is one of my favourite ‘Doctor Who’ stories with Nyssa in it. It’s well-written by Jonathan Morris; features the lovely Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and it was great to hear Alistair Mackenzie from ‘Monarch of the Glen’ as Adric in this. I couldn’t wait to listen to the next adventure.
The CD extras are as follows. At the end of Disc 1, there’s a suite of incidental music to enjoy. At the end of Disc 2, there’s a trailer for ‘Persuasion’ with Sylvester McCoy and Tracey Childs. There are also behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew including Peter Davison; Sarah Sutton; Alistair Mackenzie; etc.
If you subscribe to Big Finish for ‘Prisoners of Fate’ via a 6 or 12 CD/Download subscription, you’ll get the following extras. There is a PDF script and extended extras of ‘Prisoners of Fate’. There’s also a bonus Short Trip called ‘Crystal Ball’ with the Seventh Doctor, read by Stephen Critchlow.
‘Prisoners of Fate’ rating – 9/10
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